Wednesday, March 31, 2010

African Gorillas Face Future Extinction

The consumption of a silver-backed gorilla. (Photo: National Geographic)

... shame on us.
African Gorillas Face Future Extinction

Though most of our species in the more developed countries won’t even care about this, I feel compelled to report this tragedy of environmental disaster wrought by our lesser fortunate brethren in Africa specifically between the countries of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, all sites of genocides and the abuse of human rights in modern history.

There are multiple factors negatively affecting the population of African gorillas living in the Congo Basin. Of course, humans are one of them. Due to the violent militants and rebels ethnically cleansing their areas, it has forced thousands of refugees towards the wild, mainly the Congo Basin.

Refugee camps are in wild demand of any food especially the meat of an ape. Insurgents and militias further harm gorillas by aggressively encroaching into the wild to extract precious – and illegal – minerals along with much needed lumber cutting down trees and ruining habitats for gorillas.

To top it all off, the epidemic of Ebola, a deadly virus for both humans and apes, especially apes, which became known to the public due to the strange infections of monkeys in the U.S being is accelerating the rate of mortality for these gorillas. This virus that originates from the Ebola River near Congo spreads through things such as spit, or soil rarely through human contact. Consequently, gorillas with their habits and movement patterns fell victim to an Ebola epidemic in the late 1900’s worsening their immune system and killing thousands of these gorillas.

Think environment activists have time? Think again. Within the next decade, the gorillas in the Greater Congo Basin will completely disappear as activities such as mining and poaching continue to rapidly increase as demands for the end-products also increase.

Ninety percent of both infected gorillas and the natural habitats will decrease in the same timeframe of roughly ten to fifteen years according to the United Nations Environment Program, a surprise for those who had thought gorillas in the Congo Basin would lose the same amount of their habitat by the year 2030.

A nightmare for environment activists, the lack of gorillas in the region of Central Africa will have significant impacts on the levels of their community, ecosystem and ultimately the biosphere leading to other environmental casualties as well.

Unlike the cases of whales, tigers, and others being terribly cut down by humans in the animal kingdom, the decreasing population of gorillas in Central Africa (already around the number of seven hundred gorillas, a gloomy statistic when compared to the previous population in the 20th century) is even harder to prevent. You can’t exactly hunt down militants in politically unstable areas in Africa, and you can’t exactly hand out vaccination to a line of gorillas to prevent their deaths in the Ebola outbreaks.

The rangers at these wildlife sites are nearly helpless as well due to the lack of outside support for Interpol’s Environmental Crime Program and such other programs. More than 180 rangers have already been killed by those who illegally garner resources at the expense of the species of gorillas.

There simply is no room for optimism only reality.

It’s a tough job to repopulate a species but even tougher to do so under these harsh conditions.

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